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Passion Permeates at 2010 SOF

Posted Jul 28, 2010

Mike Singletary didn’t want to insult the intelligence of the 49ers fan base Tuesday night with hoopla and hyperbole.

Instead, the straight-shooting head coach maintained his reputation at the team’s State of the Franchise event by speaking from the heart while sharing his genuine feelings about the upcoming season.

Among the direct messages Singletary delivered from inside packed walls of the Santa Clara Convention Center:

-The 2010 season “will be a very special year.”

-The goals of the team this offseason were three-fold, improve the offensive line by having linemen “with teeth that can bite,” add depth to the secondary and find stability in the return game.

-The head coach believes his team is “as talented as any team out there.”

But Singletary wasn’t the only person who wowed the audience with a passionate and honest message.

The night’s other keynote speakers, team president and CEO Jed York and vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke, were also well received as each shared anecdotal stories about the nuances of their jobs.

“I was encouraged by all of it,” said Joseph Cammarata, a 49ers season ticket holder of the past 20 years. “It wasn’t the pep rally that I thought it was going to be, which I found refreshing. It was nice to hear brass tacks stuff.”

York opened up as the night’s first speaker and unveiled several new services available for fans in the upcoming season. An official mobile application, a team rewards plan and an early fan attendance program were just some of the topics York discussed.

He also covered a popular hot-button topic, the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara. According to York, the team hopes to break ground on the new stadium in 2012 and will remain as the “San Francisco 49ers.” York also said exiting the new stadium will be 50-percent faster than the gridlock scene in the parking lots of Candlestick Park.

But beyond the business side of football, York’s zest for winning was abundantly clear. In his opening comments, the president called his role with the team, “the greatest job in the world.”

He went on to say, “It’s not just (about) winning the Super Bowl, it’s (about) winning with class…  We took a step forward (last season), but that was not good enough. That’s not the standard for the 49ers. The standard is winning Super Bowls. It’s about playing all the way through February.”

Those words rang true with 49ers season ticket holder Eric Washington, who appreciated the sentiment of each speaker, especially York.

“It sounds like we’re getting back to the 49ers of old, no doubt about it.” Washington said.

For many in attendance who weren’t as familiar with Baalke as they were with York and Singletary, the newly appointed vice president of player personnel left a solid first impression.

“He came across as a very intelligent guy,” Cammarata added. “He seems to have a game plan and he seems to be able to identify, from what I can see, valuable talent.”

Baalke shared with the fans what impressed him about the 2010 draft class as he played college highlight tape of each of the team’s eight draft picks.

“The goal is to get better,” Baalke said towards the end of his presentation, “and we really feel that we have done that. We have brought in some quality players at key positions that will create competition, and that will make us a better football team.”

As the last speaker, Singletary walked up on stage to a standing ovation. He thanked the fans for their support and began to address the state of his football team. With training camp less than a week away, the head coach admitted he’s missed his players.

“I can’t wait to get into it this weekend. I can’t wait to see the guys. I can’t wait to see their faces,” he said. “I am so excited with where we are and the talent level that we have. And now the challenge starts this weekend.”

The hour-long event seen live on 49ers.com by more than 4,000 viewers not only allowed fans to hear directly from their beloved team, but it also established two-way communication in the form of a question and answer session with all three speakers on stage.

Fans submitted hundreds of questions through 49ers.com and the team’s various social media sites, ranging from: “Who would win a ‘Nutcracker’ drill between Singletary and coach Tom Rathman,” to “Will the team remain as the San Francisco 49ers if a new stadium is built in Santa Clara?”

Each question allowed for some playful banter. Case in point, when the panel was asked, “What will be different about this year’s team than any other in 49ers history?” Both York and Baalke immediately turned to Singletary to hear his answer.

The moment received a chuckle from the crowd, and was one of many genuine moments from the event.

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